Sonoma State men’s tennis team is beginning to kick off their quest to become national champs, with many of the athletes looking to improve upon last years results. Many of the players are confident in this year's roster, believing they can compete with anybody in the country.
Junior Alec Wong feels “that we have some of the best talent in the country.”
The team's goals go further than talent, however, with “a family environment and healthy, inspirational culture among teammates and coaches” being a focal point, according to All-PacWest member Nate Oppenheim. Oppenheim said, “Our record was good last year but we lost a bit of the team unity towards the end and it showed in the conference tournament.
We can’t be successful if everyone isn’t one hundred percent bought into the family style culture we have here,” Oppenheim said. He said all the players can agree that they are close to having somewhat of a breakout season. They just need everyone to be on the same page.
When April rolls around the team will be playing in Arizona. In previous seasons this is when the players have noticed that an adjustment needs to be made. According to Wong, the team needs “to just be more fit and prepared to play in the heat at the end of the year because we play in 100+ degree weather in Arizona. So just being in shape and ready to go when I’m called.”
The Seawolves lost one of their star players, Sean Alves. He was the number one player last year before ending his long tennis career. Alves was also named to the All-PacWest team. Losing a top player calls for everyone to step their games up, including better communication. “I think the team just needs to be on the same page the whole time and not let anything distract us,” says Wong.
The journey has just begun as their first scrimmage match was last week against a Division 1 opponent, the University of San Francisco. They lost six to one, but the players are not too worried about that. This past weekend, they played scrimmage matches as they faced off against UC Davis Saturday and Santa Clara University on Sunday. Both of those matches were away. Their first regular season match is on Thursday, Feb. 7 against Southern Utah at the Sonoma State tennis courts. The Seawolves will play seven times this season at home as the rest of their matches are away from home.
The season is a journey and number four singles player Joshua Liu knows the grind.
“It is a long road to that [national championship] so I think we are just gonna try and perform our best each match that we play. Then we will see where we go from there,” said Liu. “When things are going good everything is good.”
The players all seem to be under the impression their focus has to be better this year if they want to compete for a national championship. The talent does not seem to be the biggest issue at hand. “We are a very hard working team and with the talent we have I am very confident we can accomplish this [playing in the NCAA tournament] and more,” Oppenheim said.